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The US congress is an independent legislative body that does not merely pass laws but also initiates and creates them Consists of two houses bicameral system House of Representatives and the Senate The US congress has 535 national legislatures representing the population 100 Senators and 435 members of the House of Representatives All laws must be passed by both houses before being put to the President for assent Main Key functions of the Congress Serves as a forum to air public policy issues Crafts and shapes legislative proposals Helps to develop and oversee the national budget Oversee the administration of the laws it enacts Initiates investigations when called for 1 More specifically the congress is given the power to make laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers and all other powers vested by this constitution in the governmentor in any other department or office thereof This innocent sounding statement which has come to be known as the elastic clause has provided the basis for a vast expansion of congressional power To do what is necessary and proper has given the congress a great deal of latitude in regard deciding when and how to legislate 2 The congress legislature was designed and intended to be a democratic institution and a forum for open and responsible policy debate The congress through the middle years of this century was characterised by conservative southerner representatives who were successfully re-elected term after term This stereotypical representative also took a conservative view on the way that the congress should be run its procedures traditions and unspoken rules This original intention for the house to be democratic and open has been largely inhibited by the emergence of unwritten rules and behind the scene dealing of nearly all congress representatives The 1960s and 1970s saw reforms take place Selection of Committees became more
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